Category Archives: Sydney en France

Are they coming home?

Paris, 18 October, 2012

Dear G and J

Oh how time flies. And us too. We are soon to leave for home, and that means 30 hours flying and somehow keeping the four quiet, if they decide to come with us, that is. Sydney will, that’s for sure. The others? Maybe. The one I am most concerned about is Dexter. He has a mind of his own. He is one smart frog. The others basically follow the chips, or carrots, or sausages. Dexter, though, is smarter than that and he may need some convincing to come with us. Still that’s a few days off…

But – getting back to the seven things. If you remember, I’ve told you four. The last three are all of the exhilarating kind.

The Frog-eyed Peas have kicked up a storm. It is amazing. The four made their first appearance in a street parade where a whole lot of bands were carted on the backs of trucks along the rue de Rivoli. The trucks stopped at intersections and the bands all did their stuff. Well, the whole of Paris went ballistic when the Frog-eyed Peas had their turn. Thousands climbed on the top of bus shelters and danced, thousands more followed the truck with the four, singing along to Yesterday and The Rainbow Connection. There was even, at one point, a mass yodel. Sydney almost passed out with the thrill of it!!!

And it didn’t end there. That night, the Frog-eyed Peas played, by invitation, at the Paris Opera, which is much larger than the Khandallah Town Hall. Jan and I were even allowed to attend for free, and best of all, we could go back stage and look out at the crowd.

There was only one downside to the whole matter and that happened after the concert at the press conference. Yes, they were so popular that they have already had their first press conference. Anyway, rather alarmingly, and this is the only time this has ever happened, all the paparazzi cameras went off at the same instant. Whoa ho, what a flash. I have managed to get a copy of the photo and, as you can see, the flash is ballistic. The downside? There was a distinct smell of singed feathers following the photo. However, a quick check showed no real harm done to the famous plumage.

Later . . .

Oops, had the most serious interruption. Jan appeared with a bag of pain au chocolat and by the time I had finished my share, I completely forgot to finish off the postcard.  Well, no harm done … on with the story. It is now tomorrow, which is a bit confusing because that would make yesterday today with no international date line in sight. Are you confused? I’m confused. But anyway, the story…

The next day, which of course is two days ago now, we had a very serious meeting with the Frog-eyed Peas, and Dexter decided they would come to New Zealand, but not with us. You see, early on in his career in the circus, Loppy had a most unfortunate accident on a high wire. Apparently the act was for Loppy to dance on the high wire while the knife thrower threw knives between his (Loppy’s) legs. The whole act ended up in a heap on the floor and Loppy now hates heights, so the Frog-eyed Peas are coming to New Zealand by ship.

Dexter has organised a gig on a cruise ship that arrives in Wellington in December. It is my job to book the Khandallah Town Hall for their first New Zealand gig.

We waved good bye to the four from the banks of the Seine and watched as they headed down to the coast on a peniche, ready to join the cruise liner.

Jan and I are heading off to catch the A380 for the long trip home. We are a bit sad not to have the Frog-eyed Peas with us, but relieved too.

Well, I guess that’s the end of Sydney’s adventures in France, but it sure isn’t the end of Sydney. Given half a chance, he’ll pinch anyone’s chips. One thing we know for sure, wherever Sydney is, a fracas will not be far behind!

See you in a couple of days.

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Copyright © L. Rivers 2012

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Would you believe it…?

Paris, October 16, 2012

Dear J and G

We were exasperated. We are now exhausted. But we are also exhilarated. There is so much to tell you. Seven things have happened.

One, there was a prolonged squawk and, you’ve guessed it, Sydney’s back. We were so pleased to see him. A big bundle of snowy white feathers without a hint of singe. He smells better than he has for years. I guess a few chips and a visit to the dump may change that. I wonder where the Paris dump is?

Then, and this is the second thing, Dexter knocked on the door. Well, we didn’t know it was Dexter until after he had told us his name. Would you believe, it was, and I kid you not, the banjo-playing frog. His name is Dexter.

Well, we then put the whole four together. They get on like a house on fire. There’s lots of sparks, and sometimes we can see Sydney sidling off to ensure that he doesn’t get singed.

The next thing that happened – they argued. They’d decided to get together again and give it one more try as a band, this time as a quartet. Sydney said he wanted them to be called Le Chippolaaaaaaatas (again). Thumper said he wanted them to be called the Four Carrots (can’t figure that one out). Loppy said he quite liked Le Chippolaaaaaaatas because chipolatas were long skinny sausages, and dogs liked them. Sydney said chippolaaaaaaata is the cry of the lonely seagull.

When the argument was in full flight, Dexter did a riff (just like the one Michael J. Fox does in Back to the Future). This brought the argument to a thunderous halt. In the ensuing silence, Dexter looked at each of the other three and said, punctuating his words with loud strums and the occasional pluck, ‘We are not Le Chippolaaaaaatas, we will never be the Four Carrots, we are, and Paris is ready for this, the Frog-eyed Peas.

This announcement was met by stunned silence. Even Sydney shut up. Jan said it was the first time for many years she had seen him with his beak closed. I looked at Dexter with admiration. Frogs are so smart, I thought.

As both Loppy and Thumper were wearing frog eyes already and Dexter, of course, can never take his off, it was only left for Sydney to put the eyes on (and not the rolly eyes either).

Jan said at that moment the eyes have it, and we all rolled around laughing. It was such a great moment. It was the moment of the formation of what may become one of the great bands of history. Here’s the first photo of the Frog-eyed Peas. Note that Dexter is looking very pleased.

The battery on my computer is running down, and I need to do the dishes, and I can’t tell you the next three things that happen until tomorrow. But believe me, I have told you about the exasperation and the exhaustion and I’ve just started on the exhilaration. There is more to come.

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© Lewis Rivers 2012

Thump at the door

Paris, October 9, 2012

Dear J and G

Gee willikers, we have the feeling things are going to get better and better. It is now the morning after the day before which is the day I’m about to describe. Early yesterday we heard a thump at the door. On opening it, I found a bedraggled brown rabbit with purple and yellow streaks running through his fur. That thump at the door was Thumper at the door!

In between the sobs, we learnt that Thumper had decided rabbits shouldn’t try to change their spots. Indeed, he realised rabbits weren’t meant to have spots in the first place.

The sorry tale is that Thumper, the new Parisian rage, had been caught in a big rainfall and all his spots had run. Well, we brought Thumper inside. He had a shower and spruced up. I guess the most amazing thing, though, was that when he appeared at the door he was wearing frog eyes.  Thumper said frog eyes were going to be the next big thing in Paris.

Fortunately, Thumper and Loppy the curly-haired, floppy-eared Chloe lookalike got along well. They even shared a dinner bowl, though Loppy wouldn’t eat the carrots, which suited Thumper just fine. He wasn’t at all attracted to the sardines in aspic. That night they both slept on the window sill.

About two o’clock in the morning, when they were sound asleep, Jan and I woke up and saw, out the window, a bright, yellow beaming moon.

And there in the distance, between us and the Eiffel Tower, was the banjo-playing frog floating to earth under a parachute. As he passed by, he gave a huge wink and a big smile, and strummed the chords of ‘You are my sunshine’.

We looked to see if the frog had frog eyes and realised that of course he did, he was a frog! Jan and I went back to sleep, both of us contented because all the signs were that things were looking good.

With luck, the frog will find our apartment. It is clear to us that the secret for finding frogs is not to try too hard. Let them find you. This is now our strategy. We think in the next few days we will have the four quirks together and who knows what may happen. Perhaps it will be Le Chippolaaaaaaatas déjà vu all over again.

I’ll keep you posted.

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© Lewis Rivers 2012

New kid on the block

Paris, October 8, 2012

Dear G and J

Amazing, absolutely amazing. We travelled all the way to Brest and there, sitting on the ground, outside a circus that was closed for the winter, was an unemployed, curly-haired, floppy-eared dog, much like Chloe, looking wistful. Turns out his name’s Lope-along Cassidy, or Loppy for short.

Loppy needs a new gig for the winter months. He was also getting a bit tired of his circus job because the knife-thrower had failing eyesight and Loppy had difficulty putting plasters on his rump (no thumbs). How could I refuse to take Loppy, particularly, and if you look at the picture carefully you will see them, he was wearing an Alice band with frog eyes. We thought Loppy may be very useful.

I asked him to give me a quick demonstration of his singing voice (I have a very cunning plan). Loppy does a lyrical howl with the occasional bark of a seal. Jan and I nodded to each other and with huge smiles all round, Loppy hopped in my backpack and came home with us to Paris.

I’ve included a photo of Loppy’s favourite spot for having a sleep at the apartment. As you can see, Loppy was not there when I took the picture. He was out in the kitchen practising his somersault technique – a bit difficult given there is no room to swing a cat let alone somersault a dog.

We really hope we can get the whole four together and help them re-launch Le Chippolaaaaaatas.

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© Lewis Rivers 2012

Sydney and the Louvre

Turn round! You’re looking at the wrong picture!

Paris, October 3, 2012

Dear J and G

Well things seem a lot calmer now we are in Paris. I don’t know what it is but I think it is because we know where Sydney is, Thumper has not caused any rumpus today, and we’ve still not seen the banjo-playing frog.

Grandpa Syd (centre, with helmet)

Of more interest, however, is some research we did this morning into Sydney’s ancestors. It really is exciting. They feature in the Louvre. There is one painting that few people look at. It is directly opposite the Mona Lisa so only gets seen by the backs of people’s heads. This painting, though, is very interesting. In the top right-hand corner are three seagulls. Since no-one was looking, I was able to stand on a chair up close and sure enough one of the seagulls in the painting was Sydney’s great-great-great-great-great-great-and-many-more greats-grandfather, also named Sydney. I had been aware of a rumour for some years now that Sydney was connected to France and particularly to French aristocracy and it is for this reason that Sydney’s ancestor is included in this canvas. I think the painter was the early Italian master named Vermicelli Macaroni.

After I’d had a look, I put the chair back and suggested to the attendant that the painting with Grandpa Syd in it should be relocated to where the Mona Lisa is and the Mona Lisa put on the wall recently vacated by the painting with Grandpa Syd in it. This way we would ensure that Sydney’s rellies become famous throughout the world. The official said the painting with Grandpa Syd in it was too big. I said I had my apple cutting knife in my bag and I was happy to give it a trim to make it fit. Fortunately we managed to slip away before the gendarmes arrived. It’s a bit of a giveaway they are coming when they start their Klaxons some kilometres away. However, I doubt that they will change the location of the paintings, so remember, if you are ever looking at the Mona Lisa, do a one-eighty, look up in the right-hand corner, and there you will see Grandpa Syd.

Now. For something even more exciting, though perhaps a little gruesome. There is a sculpture in the Louvre of Grandpa Syd’s great-great-great-great-great-great-and-many-more greats-grandfather coming to a sticky end at the hands of a rather nasty little sniver. In short, he was throttled (bird not boy), and there was the sculpture to prove it. Remember, in those days, they didn’t have cameras. Rumour has it that this Great Grandpa Syd was a bit on the dodgy side. He spent much of his life impersonating ducks so that small children would feed him. Apparently he found this a much easier way of life than keeping an eye on the dump as all good seagulls should do.

On the way back to our apartment, we walked through the Tuileries gardens and past the round pond. The weather had turned a bit bleak and windy. There were only a few ducks on the pond and even these were hove to because of the cold breeze. Jan and I made it back to the apartment before it started to rain in Ernest (hmm, not sure what Ernest did to deserve all that rain).

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© Copyright Lewis Rivers, 2012

Sydney comes a cropper

Paris, October 1, 2012

Dear J and G

Just as we thought, but only worse. This morning the newspapers are full of it: Champion crashes out of sand yachting. Seems Sydney hit soft sand, at speed, broke off the nose wheel and catapaulted out the front. The silly fool forgot to fly, landed on his beak and was stretchered off, straight back to the SPA.

He is now under sedation for a sore beak and will not, I repeat, will not be allowed to leave for several days. In addition, we have been assured that he will not be allowed to do anything more than play Scrabble. Knowing Sydney, though, we think it will soon be squabble followed by all-in-wrestling. Still at least we know where he is for the next wee while.

Now, we got a bit of a shock yesterday. Thumper has left the bucolic charm of the roundabout commune at St Malo (apparently something to do with too much leapfrog and not enough lettuce growing).  He’s in Paris, would you believe, modeling Parisian coiffure for rabbits. He has adopted a rather fetching spotted look, called the leopard, and is due to hop his stuff at Galeries Lafayette about noon today. Apparently he is quite a storm here and has caused much wear and tear of the pavements as Parisians adopt the Thumper hop, the latest outdoor dance craze.

Of the frog? The only sound has been a rather soulful banjo rendition of Blowing in the Wind, heard from around the corner near the Gare de Lyon. When we looked, all that was left were a few notes hanging in the air. One of the notes had the words ‘catch me if you can’ written on it (in French of course). That pesky frog has eluded us again.

As we walked on, Jan sang, sotto voce, ‘When will they ever learn’. I just nodded in time with her singing.

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© Copyright Lewis Rivers 2012

Sydney goes sailing . . . of sorts

St Malo

September 27, 2012

Dear J and G

Today, we have just got up. It’s coolish but sunnyish. After the strains and worries of the last few days, we are looking forward to a quiet day of bus rides, chateaus and gardens. It will be a relief to be free of the Sydney storms and the frog frets. Not to mention Thumper, so I won’t. I feel quite light-hearted, in fact.  We’re quietly confident Sydney will not get into any more scrapes. After all, he is confined to bed rest and feather restoration for a few days. The Seabird Protection Agency (SPA) has got Sydney taped.

It’s such a relief to have most everything under control (we’re still a bit nervous about the rabbit and the pesky frog). Have to go now, Jan is calling that it is time to catch the first bus to Chateau Malo. We do like a good castle. And where there’s a castle, there’s usually a garden, so that keeps you-know-who happy. I will finish this letter when I get home. . . .

It is now late afternoon. I am home and aghast! It’s nothing but trouble, trouble, and more trouble. The lesser of our troubles is there is no chateau at Chateau Malo. We got to Chateau Malo and found it is simply a country village without even a café. As I had suggested the visit, and promised a garden, Jan did the rolly eyes at me. That really helped − not.

Sydney Seagull: Sand Sensation

Now for the real drama. That fool of a bird, Sydney, not content with stuffing himself with chips and growing new feathers, has taken up land yachting.

Not your ordinary, average, everyday duffer out-for-a-bit-of-fun-to-help-your-feathers-grow-back sort of land yachting, but hard-out racing.  He’s even thinking of turning professional and taking part in the All-Europe International Pro-Am Land-Yachting circuit.

Why can’t Sydney be happy doing prolonged squawks, eating chips and keeping an eye on the dump like all the other seagulls? If it isn’t goblins, it’s merry-go-round horses; if it isn’t merry-go-round horses, it’s ninja pigeons; if it isn’t ninja pigeons, it’s supersonic flying. And now it is the pro-am land-yachting circuit.

The auld mug of land yachting

This is going to be another disaster, probably a real doozy. And it’ll be left to us to pick up the pieces and dust off the feathers. Personally, there are times I believe we would be better off with feathery dusters rather than dusty feathers.

I’ll keep you informed.

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© Copyright Lewis Rivers 2012